Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Race Day: Saturday Edition

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This post is a follow-up to the post about how a small/home/weeknight race day goes. 
Races of any kind, big or small, get me hype, but Saturday races are exciting on a whole different level.  Cross country is one of those things that you just can't understand without having the experience, but I'll try to give you an inside look.

This was our first Saturday meet of the season.  It's not the biggest, but it's a fun one!  I love the course, too, at Jackson Park in Western North Carolina.

Start lines are intense.  That's my least favorite part.  It is a stampede.  It's actually rather scary, especially for those who have never run in a race of this size before, as is the case for our freshmen at this race each year.  Unless you're a speed demon like Jessica (who fell flat on her face when the gun went off), if you don't get a good start, you get stuck in with so many people way too close together, all heading for the same place!  I didn't even know this until this season, but my mom never watches the start.  Never.  It scares her, too, and she's not even running!
It gets dead silent as the starter gives instructions then tells us to take our marks.  His arm goes up.  BANG.
That gunshot is an intense noise. 

As I am not a sprinter, starts are tough for me.  I need to get out faster to get good position, but it's tough when my legs don't want to go that fast!  This race was especially bad in that.  I started the race in the back!  However, over the first half mile or so, I caught up, just focusing on passing people bit by bit.  I was surprised at how quickly I caught up to the two leaders.  Then I even passed them!  I knew that was God taking me up front so fast because if you had seen my start and all the people I had to work through, this was not an easy task.  Anna Vess, the defending NC state champion was right on my heels until mile 2 where I left her.  I was so thankful to have her there pushing me through the whole thing!
This course is two loops, and this is us coming up the "horseshoe hill" the first time.  Every hill on this course has a name like that, including "hill hill," "seizure hill," and "heart attack hill," etc.
Anna and I were really pushing each other for the first 2 miles of the race.  It always adds tension within myself when I have someone right with me, but it can be a good thing if I use it to push myself faster.  That's what happened!  I was so thankful to have her there to keep me going.
  
Like with my starts, I don't have that much speed going down the finish either.  I can push a little faster, but it's not a sprint like some girls can.  Everyone always has things they can improve on, and that's something I'm trying to work on!
I was super surprised as I crossed the line of just the second race of the season with a time only 10 seconds off my PR, despite that horrendous start!  I was so thankful that God carried me through that.
Not that I feel like I need recognition, but cross country meets do give awards to the top finishers and teams!
How does a team win in cross country? is a typical question.  The lowest score wins.  Whatever place a person gets is how many points they "score" for their team, runners 1-5 to finish.  (At least 5 people are required to have a full team)  For example, in this race, I placed first, so I counted 1 point.  Just making this up, but if the next 4 on my team were 8th, 11th, 14th, and 20th, we would have 54 points.

Scriptures containing "stumble" have come up a lot this season, as I often stumble during races!  It's scary, since if you fall, you just might get trampled!  Or lose your position and throw off your pace.  These are a couple verses that I really like to go with the life and running metaphor. 
"For You, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living...what shall I return to the Lord for all His goodness to me?"  Psalm 116:8-9, 12
Life now seems more fulfilling than ever; God has filled me with joy and keeps me safe; even when I stumble in my races or mess up in life, He never lets me totally fall; I have hope that no matter what happens here on earth, I have heaven to look forward to!  All this is so wonderful, I just want to make use of the blessings.  With a day like this when I started out feeling bad, got an awful start, yet still almost PRd, it leaves me asking "How can I thank God enough!?"
I try to use who I am and what I do to point to the One who made me as such.
Instagram caption:  Although I may be first, I am second.
I might get first in races sometimes, but I wouldn't be able to have this life without God.  I, as a child of God, am to put God first in my life, followed by others.  (Matthew 22:36-39, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’")
(For more "I Am Second" testimonies, there is an actual thing-for lack of better terms.)
This is Katie, and she is a hard worker!  She may not be the fastest, but she will push herself.  That's the beauty of the sport.  We have such admiration for those who work hard.
I also love that she bought two boxes of pumpkin spice granola bars for the snack bars thinking of me and my love for pumpkin!
I like to switch things up sometimes, but we usually end up going to one of the same few places after races, those being Chick-fil-a, Salsarita's, or Chili's almost every time.  The past couple years after this race, we went in Chick-fil-a!  (Although 2 years ago, we made a special trip to Tupelo Honey Cafe because I was dying to try it, and the Asheville location wasn't too far.)  My mom even got a treat by going here this time, too, because she got free samples of the frosted lemonade from the sample stand!
Races are also great opportunities to have fun and meet new people!  We helped out some guys get some social media attention with their cardboard friend, Super Trent.  Check him out on instagram!

The Sundays after races are always fun and relaxing.  I'll do some stuff to loosen up and get my blood flowing, but I spend most of the afternoon catching up on schoolwork, preparing myself for the upcoming week, and looking at race results and pictures online.
Again, as I didn't feel good before the race, it was not my strength that carried me through to a fast time, but God's. 
Jackson Park is also a pretty place, and now anyone who sees this post on Swarm will get a glimpse of the Lord!
Milesplit's twitter always posts tons of updates and articles, and this one advertised the results from our race!  They even had great videos!
This guy is the Morristown/East TN sports writer, and I must say, he is on the ball! 
It was also exciting to see myself and the team making a statement in another state!

The week's header photo for Tennessee Milesplit!
Another thing I do after race days is make collages and post pictures of course!
 
Every race is different, but they all have some things in common.  This is just a little bit of cross country.  I suggest you go see a big race for yourself sometime!  It really is exciting, but you'll never know until you've done it yourself.